Middle East This Week: June 22, 2021

June 22, 2021

Your weekly roundup of news and analysis of elections in the greater Middle East and North Africa, usually posted on Tuesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, at a campaign rally in Tehran in 2017. He didn’t win the 2017 election, but he tried again and won this year. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Tasnim News Agency (CC BY 4.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: July 25, 2021

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), part of the Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed region of Kashmir, will hold elections on July 25, 2021. These follow elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, the other part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The elections were originally due by April 2, 2021, but have been delayed.

The region is a geopolitical hotspot. Tensions with India (India and Pakistan have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir) are growing and both sides are upping their military presence. Moreover, the area is a centerpiece of China’s Belt and Road, which further inflames Pakistan’s relations with India.

Radio Mashaal, RFE/RL (June 23, 2021): Pakistani Expatriates Demand The Right To Vote In Elections

Sumaira FH, UrduPoint (June 22, 2021): AJK Elections, 984 Candidates File Nominations Papers For 45 General Seats.

Iraq Early Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021 (tentative) and Provincial Elections (due)

Iraq’s government had proposed holding snap parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021, one year early, following the demands of protesters. However, the tentative date has been pushed to October. The country is also due to hold provincial (sometimes called governorate) elections. Preparations are taking place in the context of widespread protest and political instability. More

The New Arab (June 21, 2021): Iraq begins early preparation for October general elections

Tim Stickings, The National UAE (June 21, 2021): EU will send election observers to monitor Iraq’s October polls

Chloe Cornish, Financial Times (June 21, 2021): Iraqi activist assassinations create ‘climate of fear’ before elections

The Economist (June 19, 2021): Few things are harder than building a state in Iraq. But hints of progress can be detected

Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: December 24, 2021 (tentative)

Libya’s national elections are overdue and have been postponed indefinitely due to the political crisis and civil war. However, in November 2020, Libyan stakeholders participating in UN-sponsored talks proposed December 24, 2021 for presidential and parliamentary elections. More

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (June 23, 2021): Libya talks set December date for national elections

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (June 23, 2021): EU warns anyone judged to be delaying Libya elections will risk sanctions

Gier Moulson, AP (June 23, 2021): Libya conference sees hope on elections, foreign forces

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due)

Lebanon is due to hold general elections in May 2022, although some parties have called for early elections. The country has been in a political crisis and without a government since the port explosion in Beirut, in which 215 people died, 7,500 were injured, and 300,000 were left homeless. Moreover, Lebanon is in an economic crisis.

David Gardner, Financial Times (June 22, 2021): Sanctions could force Lebanon’s politicians to govern: Country is imploding as officials collude in ‘deliberate depression’

Al Jazeera (June 22, 2021): Lebanon raises price of bread for the fifth time in a year

Palestinian Authority Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, postponed indefinitely

The Palestinian Authority has postponed its long overdue elections for the legislature and president, which had been scheduled for May 22 and July 31, respectively. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in year 16 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006. 

Since the announcement of the delay, the conflict between Hamas and Israel reignited. Following 11 days of fighting, the parties reached a ceasefire on May 20. More

Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post (June 22, 2021): Abbas rivals targeted in ‘unprecedented’ PA crackdown

Past Middle East Elections

Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021

Iran held its next presidential election on June 18, 2021, with concurrent local elections. While Iran is far from a free country, and the elections are largely rigged, voters have in the past had a degree of choice. However, this year’s election was even more rigged than usual. The Guardian Council (which must approve all candidacies) allowed seven candidates on the ballot and mostly excluded moderates and establishment figures, among them a number of prominent names. This seemed to be calculated to clear the way for hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi to win, and he did in fact win. More

Dara Conduit, Atlantic Council (June 23, 2021): Predicting the predictable: What do pre-election polls tell us about Iran’s election?

Editorial Board, Washington Post (June 21, 2021): Opinion: Iran’s election reveals a weakening but ruthless regime

AP (June 19, 2021): Hard-Line Judiciary Head Wins Iran’s Presidency Amid A Low Turnout

Al Jazeera (June 18, 2021): Iran’s election: By the numbers

Vivian Yee and Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times (June 17, 2021): Many Expected to Shun Iran Vote Seen as Presidential Race of One: An ultraconservative judiciary chief appears to have the only real chance of winning after a council of powerful clerics disqualified virtually all the other viable candidates.

Algeria Snap Legislative Elections: June 12, 2021, followed by local elections later this year

Algeria held snap elections on June 12, 2021, following more than two years of protests by the Hirak movement. However, the government’s election plan did not actually satisfied the Hirak, who boycotted the elections and continue to protest. The absence of the Hirak, who are mostly secular, from the elections has paved the way for Islamist parties to become the main opposition. Ultimately, the FLN, the country’s long-dominant nationalist secular party, won the elections.

AFP (June 22, 2021): Dozens in Algeria face charges over polling day violations: ministry

Liam Scott, Voice of America (June 22, 2021): Algeria Revokes France 24 Accreditation as Pressure on Media Mounts

Abdelkader Cheref, The Arab Weekly (June 21, 2021): Algeria’s election: A stagnant political system detached from society

Stratfor (June 18, 2021): Algeria’s First Post-Bouteflika Ballot Leaves His Party in Power

Africanews/AFP (June 17, 2021): Algeria’s Islamist MSP party ”very satisfied” with election results

Syria Presidential Election: May 26, 2021

Syria held its presidential election for May 26, 2021. The election happened the context of Syria’s ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis. Elections under the regime of Bashar al-Assad are widely considered to be a sham. More

Samy Akil, ASPI’s The Strategist (June 22, 2201): Syria’s multi-purpose election

Israel Parliamentary Elections, Take 4: March 23, 2021

On March 23, 2021, Israel held its fourth general election in two years after the collapse of the unity government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. Neither Netanyahu’s allies nor his opponents won a majority. Netanyahu, whose conservative Likud party won the most seats, had the first chance to form a coalition, but he failed. Subsequently,Yair Lapid from the centrist Yesh Atid formed a broad coalition with conservative Naftali Bennett, with Bennett as prime minister for a time before rotating the position to Lapid. A number of other parties are in the coalition, which passed a Knesset vote on June 14, thus ending Netanyahu’s 12 years in office. More

Isabel Kershner, New York Times (June 21, 2021): Fight Over a Gentle Stream Distills Israel’s Political Divide

AP (June 20, 2021): Netanyahu To Leave Prime Minister’s Residence By July 10

The Economist (June 20, 2021): Naftali Bennett’s new Israeli government has its work cut out

Haviv Rettig Gur, Times of Israel (June 18, 2021): Netanyahu knows he’s no victim of election fraud. So why peddle the claim?

Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post (June 17, 2021): What do Bennett’s first 100 hours say about his gov’t going forward?

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: July 25, 2021

Jordan Local and Gubernatorial Elections: August 2021 (due)

Morocco Legislative, Provincial, and Local Elections: September 8, 2021

Iraq Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021

Qatar Shura Council Elections: October 2021 (proposed)

Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 24, 2021

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due)

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Algeria Local Elections: November 2022 (due – earlier elections possible)

Egypt Local Elections: Due and discussed, but not scheduled

Oman Municipal Elections: Due, but postponed due to COVID-19

Palestinian Authority Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, postponed yet again, no date set

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